Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Lady Midnight by Cassandra ClareLady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1)
Cassandra Clare
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published on March 8, 2016

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Lady Midnight
In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

My Review
I have so many conflicting feelings about this book. Some things—the relationships between the Blackthorn siblings and descriptions of especially Mark and Julian as well as all the tension between Faeries and Shadowhunters—I loved. Other things—the overall size of the cast (huge), the darkness of the plot, and the spans of info-dump in the narrative—were not my favorite things.

Emma’s character is super different than the heroine of Clare’s earlier Shadowhunter series. I liked The Mortal Instruments (okay, I think I only read the first three, but I liked them) and I liked Clary, the heroine of that series as well. But where Clary’s the emotionally sensitive, thoughtful leader, Emma’s all action and impulse. I liked that contrast and the way Emma’s character paired with her parabatai and bestie, Julian.

The story deals with a lot of demon-y stuff. Dark rituals, battles with demons, etc. I feel like The Mortal Instruments focused a little more on vampires and werewolves, but honestly, it may have been just as dark as this book was. I felt like Lady Midnight had a LOT of spiritually dark content. Enough that I probably won’t finish the series, to be honest.

I did really enjoy the references to the Faerie realm and the group Mark was bound to and all of the politics between the Shadowhunters and Faeries. It wasn’t the main focus of the story, but I found it to be one of the most fascinating parts of the overall tale.

On the whole, this is a tough one for me to review. I really liked some things and really struggled with other things. I think this series is probably not one I’ll continue with.

Lady Midnight on AmazonRecommended for Ages 16 up.

Cultural Elements
Cristina and Diego are Mexican. Other characters are white. Mark and his sister Helen face prejudice from both fairies and Shadowhunters because they are half-descendants of each. Mark is also bisexual.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Intense kissing between boy and girl or boy and boy. At one point, a montage sort of sequence fills readers in on the romantic relationship between two boys. There’s very little graphic sexual description, but we’re in no doubt of their level of intimacy.

Another scene describes a couple on the beach. The description leading up to their sexual encounter is intense, but we’re spared a play-by-play of the actual sex.

Spiritual Content
Dark (blood) rituals, demon battles, sorcery… this story has a lot of things some conservative readers might object to. Vampires deliver pizza to Emma and her allies. They stumble onto a cult in which it appears one member is chosen as a sacrifice.

Shadowhunters are said to be descendants of angels and humans. Some seem to worship or pray to certain angels. Some special knives have connections to angels and their powers are “activated” when the user says the angel’s name.

Violent Content
Lots of battle scenes, some pretty gory, some fatal.

Drug Content
Julian’s uncle relies on a drug/potion to restore his mind for short periods of time. The drug leaves him with terrible headaches once it wears off.

Lady Midnight on Goodreads



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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

3 Responses to Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

  1. Nicole says:

    Great review and thanks for touching on the novel’s dark tone. I confess I bought this because of the hype (and the gorgeous cover!) but it ended up being a DNF for me. Not only did the plot feel unduly long and stretched thin, but I, too, wasn’t a fan of the tone nor the sexual dynamics. I’m surprised this was marketed as a YA read because it feels more like something for mature readers only. At the risk of sounding old fashioned, I am saddened at what passes for reading material for teens these days. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having dark elements in a story as long as there are lighter elements to offset them. But this novel truly was as dark as midnight, at least to me. Thanks for your thoughts! 🙂

    • Thanks, Nicole. It was a tough one for me. I hate reviewing books I didn’t absolutely love. :/ I know what you mean about the plot. I think for me a lot of it was all the times the story kind of stopped to talk about the story world or characters from The Mortal Instruments. I agree– there are a lot of books marketed as YA that seem like they’re not actually YA in theme and tone. I wonder if it’s partly that so many adults read YA now that the target audience has shifted a little bit? Or is it a reflection of the way we treat teens culturally? I feel like we don’t value childhood much these days. Kids get treated more like small adults rather than, you know, KIDS. Anyway– thanks for sharing your thoughts, too. It’s always intimidating to put something out there and wonder if you’re the only one who had those thoughts. I’m glad I’m not the only one! 🙂

      • Nicole says:

        You make a good point I hadn’t thought of before regarding how there are more adults perusing YA these days; so it’s very possible authors try to appeal to both camps, the teen camp and the adult camp, whether that’s through tone, content, etc.. While I don’t take issue with books depicting young people tackling heavy issues, I do think there’s still room for lighthearted, noble stories (“Harry Potter” comes to mind, which balances heavy issues, like grief, with comedy and heroics.). In the same way, I totally agree that society tends to treat teens and even kids as adults when that isn’t the case. Childhood and even the teen years seem like they have to speed by so young people grow up faster. Kids do need to be kids, which is something that seems to be neglected in a lot of current YA and even some middle grade reads.